Tuesday, April 26, 2022

How to Make Taco Meat Like Taco Bell

Learn how to make taco meat taste just like takeout. Use this Taco Bell ground beef recipe to recreate all your favorite menu items at home!

Salty and savory with just a touch of heat — There’s something uniquely delicious about the Taco Bell™ ground beef recipe that makes their tacos a crave-able snack at any time of day.

While there are dozens (or more!) taco meat recipes out there, none have ever come as close to tasting like this fast food favorite.

Once you know how to make taco meat at home, there will be no reason to wait in the drive thru again!

taco bell taco meat in a white bowl

How To Make Taco Meat

There really isn't anything difficult about making this recipe. Just brown the ground beef, then simmer with a little water and Tex Mex spices and cook until it thickens up.

However, there’s one trick that’s extremely important when making this copycat Taco Bell meat recipe.

Be sure to break up the beef into very small pieces so the texture is consistent. It’s just as crucial as getting the seasoning right!

Once all of the liquid has been absorbed, it’s ready. Spoon it into taco bowls or shells, or set out a walking tacos buffet.

And, of course, you’ll want to use it for homemade versions of your Taco Bell favorites like a Mexican Pizza, Beef Quesarito, or a Crunchwrap Supreme!

ingredients for taco bell beef recipe

Taco Bell Beef Ingredients

  • Ground Beef 
    I prefer to use 85% lean ground meat, but feel free to use your favorite. For fattier blends, you will need to drain off any excess grease before adding the spices.
  • All Purpose Flour
    This ingredient isn’t typically used in an authentic taco meat recipe, but Taco Bell ground beef has a very specific texture that we’re trying to achieve. A little all-purpose flour helps to thicken the mixture so it all sticks together.
  • Spices
    Garlic and onion powder are must in just about any savory dish! Cumin, chili powder, and paprika add more flavor and heat without making the meat too spicy.
  • Beef Bouillon
    You’ll want to use a concentrated paste for this Taco Bell ground beef recipe, not the dry cubes or granules. This is the brand I prefer because it tastes great and has a long refrigerator shelf life.
  • Sugar 
    Don’t worry, this doesn’t give the beef a sweet flavor! There is just enough to balance the flavors and prevent a sharp aftertaste.
  • Water -
    Liquid helps the spices distribute throughout the browned meat, locking in all of the delicious flavor.

browned ground beef in a skillet

Kitchen Tools You Will Need
  • Large Skillet - A wide base and deep sides help cook the beef evenly while keeping it all contained.
  • Potato Masher - Thanks to watching the Rachael Ray show, my new favorite way to break up ground meat is with a potato masher! Or, use a special meat chopper tool instead.

adding seasoning and water to ground beef

How to Make Taco Meat FAQ

Can I use a packet of taco seasoning instead?
You sure can! In fact, you may be able to find packets of branded Taco Bell taco seasoning at your local grocery store or supermarket.

I personally like to use homemade spice blends wherever I can just, simply to avoid the added preservatives and artificial colors. That said, your favorite packet of seasoning will work just fine.

stirring taco meat

Does Taco Bell use real ground beef?

According to their website, yes! You may have heard rumors over the years that their signature blend included horse meat or other fillers, but the company has stated that they only use 100 percent USDA premium beef.

What’s in Taco Bell taco seasoning?

Unfortunately, that’s a bit of a mystery. Their website does note a “signature blend of 7 authentic seasonings and spices”. They also say they have removed artificial flavors and colors in favor of natural alternatives.

For this homemade Taco Bell ground beef recipe, I used a blend of savory and hot spices, plus a little bit of sugar, and a surprise ingredient — beef bouillon!

This combination creates a unique flavor that (in my opinion) tastes just like the fast food filling.

finished seasoned beef in skillet

Prep Ahead Instructions

Once you learn how to make taco meat, it becomes second nature to whip up a batch in a few minutes.

It doesn’t hurt to cook it up in advance for parties, just don’t let it sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. 

If you need to prep ahead, refrigerate the mixture and reheat it on the stove when it’s time to eat.

How To Store Taco Meat

Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate. Be sure to use it within 2 to 3 days. You could also double or triple this Taco Bell meat recipe and freeze some for future meals!

Portion the seasoned ground beef into freezer-safe Ziploc bags so you can thaw just what you need in the refrigerator overnight.

Cooked taco meat keeps well frozen for up to 3 months.

taco meat on a spoon


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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taco bell ground beef recipe wide photo

Yield: 4-6
Author: Donna Elick
How to Make Taco Meat Like Taco Bell

How to Make Taco Meat Like Taco Bell

Learn how to make taco meat taste just like takeout. Use this Taco Bell ground beef recipe to recreate all your favorite menu items at home!
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 10 MinTotal time: 15 Min


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef. Use a spatula or a meat chopper to break the meat into small pieces.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking and breaking apart meat until most of the liquid has been absorbed (about 5 minutes.)
  3. Serve.
  1. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  2. You can use your favorite taco seasoning packet to season the ground beef.
  3. Breaking down the meat into very small pieces is just as important as getting the seasoning right for this copycat recipe. The longer the meat cooks, the easier it is to break it down - a meat chopper tool is very helpful.

How to Make Taco Meat close up

Originally published April 2022


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  1. I run the burger through a meat grinder to make a double grind fine consistency more like what you get in Taco Times crispy meat burritos.

  2. Will try this recipe


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